The Kid with a Bike (Le gamin au vélo) (2011)

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Released 18-Jul-2012

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Interviews-Cast-Cecile de France (18.07)
Featurette-Back to Seraing with the Dardennes (31.55)
Theatrical Trailer-(1.41)
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2011
Running Time 84:00
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Jean-Pierre Dardenne
Luc Dardenne

Madman Entertainment
Starring Thomas Doret
Cécile De France
Jérémie Renier
Fabrizio Rongione
Egon Di Mateo
Olivier Gourmet
Batiste Sornin
Samuel De Rijk
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI ? Music None Given

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None French Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English Alternate Subtitles
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     Belgium's greatest export, after fine chocolate and Plastic Bertrand, the Dardenne Brothers direct small films about troubled people, usually working-class battlers, in difficult times. Their latest film The Kid With A Bike (Le Gamin au Velo) is no exception, a tense poignant drama about a boy in crisis.

     The kid of the title is Cyril, played by newcomer Thomas Doret. When we first meet him he does not have a bike. Cyril is a young boy in foster care in a large Belgian town. His father, who lived nearby in a housing estate, has broken off contact and Cyril can't work out why. Believing that his father can do no wrong Cyril skips school and finds his way to the housing estate pursued by his carers. Being chased through the estate he latches onto hairdresser Samantha (Cecile De France). Only when he is taken up to the empty apartment does Cyril realise that his father has taken off. Not only that but he has sold Cyril’s precious bike to get the money for his escape.

     In the first of many good deeds Samantha finds that the person who purchased the bike lives on the estate and buys it off him. She presents it to Cyril who immediately asks if he can come and stay with her on weekends. She agrees. Cyril has an ulterior motive - to investigate why his father has apparently abandoned him. Cyril believes that they only have to meet up and his father will take him into his care.

     So begins a difficult relationship between Samantha and the troubled boy. Cyril may now be realising that his father does not want to spend time with him but he is unable to connect with anyone and is full of self-destructive anger. He runs into some local lads including one who is shunned as a drug dealer. They offer him the kind of belonging and male support that he is missing. He gets drawn into a criminal enterprise which could see him take a path from which he may not return.

     The Kid With A Bike was another great success for the Dardenne Brothers winning the Grand Prix at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival and was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film. It is a small film to be sure but that does not deprive it of great emotional resonance. It is helped by wonderful performances from Cecile De France (Sister Smile, Hereafter) and Thomas Doret. The boy was apparently chosen after an extensive audition process (although he was the fifth to try out) and he is wonderful in the role - a damaged, wilful boy who might either turn out to be a fully rounded individual or a criminal.

     The Kid With A Bike is not always easy going and there is a sense of foreboding around even the most innocent moments in the film that rack up the tension. Fans of the Dardenne Brothers will want to snap it up immediately and those who like slice of life dramas will get much out of this film.

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Transfer Quality


     The Kid With A Bike was shot on 35mm film and a 1.85:1 aspect ratio. That ratio has been preserved for this DVD release. It is 16x9 enhanced.

     Without being showy the film looks good throughout. According to the DVD case this is the first Dardenne Brothers film to be shot in summertime. That accounts for some of the gorgeous greens and oranges in the meadows around the town of Seraing where it was filmed. However, much of the film is also in darkness and the transfer handles the blacks well. The colours are strong and stable throughout.

     There are no technical defects with the transfer. Compression is not an issue.

     The flesh tones are accurate and the transfer is sharp throughout.

    There are subtitles in English which can be displayed in either yellow or white.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


     The Kid With A Bike features two soundtracks - a French Dolby Digital 5.1 track running at 448 KP/S and a French 2.0 track running at 224 KP/S.

     Both are adequate for this film. It does not make any particular sonic demands. Most of the action is from the centre channels and the dialogue appears to be clear and easy to understand throughout. There is not really any surround material on offer and I cannot recall the sub-woofer being engaged.

     The Dardenne Brothers do not usually use music in their films. Here, however, they have used a section from Beethoven's Piano Concerto Number Five which lends some lyricism to the film.

     There are no problems with the sound transfer.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


     There are two decent length extras provided with this DVD.

Interview with Cecile De France

     This is a decent length interview with a redheaded Cecile filmed at a cafe. She talks about receiving the script and reading and accepting the role all within 90 minutes, such was her desire to work with the Dardenne Brothers. She explains how the role was described to her as having fairy-tale overtones where she is the good fairy. She was able to develop the character through a month of rehearsals and always worked to establish the greatest subtlety in the performance over dramatics. Her own history of helping with children from foster homes helped her with the role although she did some research in order to convincingly portray a hairdresser.

Back to Seraing with the Dardennes

     A strange sort of Making of feature. The Brothers go back to all the areas where the film was shot, often empty spaces, and talk us through the process of filming. There is a lot of "there was a table over there" but as the feature develops it does allow us to look deeper into the craft of these talented Brothers.

Theatrical Trailer

     The trailer for the film.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

   I can't find DVD reviews for this film in other Regions. DVD Basen has two Blu-ray reviews showing the same extras (though expanded technical specifications, of course). Buy this Region's DVD.


     The Kid With A Bike is a small drama. Through much of the film the stakes are no higher than a poor kid trying to regain his bike and reconnect with his father. However in this tiny microcosm such issues loom large. It is an emotional journey.

    The DVD is of good quality and sound and vision terms. The extras are interesting and welcome.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Trevor Darge (read my bio)
Monday, September 10, 2012
Review Equipment
DVDCambridge 650BD (All Regions), using HDMI output
DisplaySony VPL-VW80 Projector on 110" Screen. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationPioneer SC-LX 81 7.1
SpeakersAaron ATS-5 7.1

Other Reviews NONE
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